One of the most important concerns with respect to a safe deposit box and estates is the placement of the will. The rule to follow: never leave your last will and testament in your safe deposit box. The reason being is that if you do follow such a course of action, the safe deposit box cannot be opened without special order of the Surrogate’s Court. Hence, to make matters easier, keep your original Will somewhere safe: with your Long Island estate attorney, in a safe, or with your nominated executor.
Back to the question as hand: whether items in a safe deposit box are taxable depends on many factors. If they are items of personal property (i.e. cash, jewelry), then those items would be counted towards your taxable estate. If said items bring your taxable estate over the estate tax threshold on either the federal or NYS tax level, then the answer is yes. However, for most individuals, assets held in a safe deposit box will not be taxed if they do not reach the estate tax threshold. Luckily for residents of New York State the NYS estate tax threshold will mirror the much higher federal level in a few years.
In addition to items of tangible personal property, there may also be items such as life insurance policies, trust planning documents, deeds, and other valuable papers. It is important when seeking tax advice to consult your CPA as well.